Each year, the finalists of The Grampian Awards for Business Excellence get a chance to celebrate their achievements whilst filming their finalist video, enjoying the press exposure and social media buzz around their success. On the evening of the awards gala (this year, the 26th of June) they get up on stage in front of more than 400 local business representatives to collect their Finalist Certificate from the sponsors of their award category.
This year, we thought that in addition to the usual events, it would be fantastic to give sponsors, judges and supporters of the awards the opportunity to get together with the finalists to celebrate their success. So, new for 2014, we held a Finalist Celebration Event at the lovely Cocoa Ooze on Belmont Street.
Cocoa Ooze seemed like the obvious choice; Jamie Hutcheon the Owner of Cocoa Ooze Chocolates (who has grown his small business in Peterculter to include a two story cafe and workshop in Aberdeen City Centre) has been a finalist of The Grampian Awards for Business Excellence twice, and last year won the prestigious Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award. Here is the moment when he, very excitedly, found out he had won. He even hi-fived the Chief Executive of Enterprise North East Trust, Gary McEwan on his way up to the stage!
Jamie said at the Finalist Celebration Event “I was so honoured to be listed as a finalist last year, especially when saw the high calibre of the other finalists. I was unbelievably shocked when I won. I had booked a table for my staff as I saw it as a way of saying thank you to them - a kind of staff night out. I was delighted to win and the impact it has had on my business as been really positive, not just because of the extra press exposure but the credibility it added to my business both locally and nationally.”
He also mentioned that the judges on judging day were not as scary as he thought they would be, with their informal interview approach in a bedroom…but we won’t go into that!
Mike Fergusson (pictured left with a finalist) and his colleagues from our core sponsor and partner for the awards; RBS - Ahead for Business were in attendance, and enjoyed meeting finalists from each of the categories. Mike said:
“Tonight was a great opportunity for finalists to meet and network with fellow successful candidates and many of the long standing sponsors of the awards. As a judge too, it was great for me to meet the finalists in each of the categories before the gala night when everyone is so busy and excited. I felt it was a really informal and relaxed atmosphere."
Gary McEwan addressed those at the celebration event with some advice for the judging day, commending the finalists on reaching this far when the competition was so tough (there were 26 applicants in some categories!) and thanking the sponsors for their support.
He left the finalists with some words of wisdom of what to bear in mind for Judging Day, when the finalists will present to a panel of prestigious judges and then answer a series of questions about their business:
"The judges are looking to identify your passion, vision and determination for what you do.”
So here are some pictures from the event. I hope you will join me in wishing the finalists all the best of luck next month.